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SUNDAY, 10/13/13

Jaxonpool _______

Dear_TristanGerrymander toward Bethlehem: The nation’s Founding Fathers designed the bicameral U.S. Congress so that the House of Representatives would more closely reflect the national popular will than the relatively staid Senate. It therefore is ironic that, in the 2012 elections, the party now dominating the House of Representatives lost the popular vote: House Democrats won majority of 2012 popular vote. According to Politifact.com of the Tampa Bay Times, “House Democrats out-earned their Republican counterparts by 1.17 million votes. Read another way, Democrats won 50.59 percent of the two-party vote. Still, they won just 46.21 percent of seats, leaving the Republicans with 234 seats and Democrats with 201. It was the second time in 70 years that a party won the majority of the vote but didn’t win a majority of the House seats, according to the analysis. The National Republican Congressional Committee did not dispute these findings.”

One can glimpse gerrymandering at work here in Florida by consulting the 2012 U.S. House election results. Republicans candidates won the popular vote, but through gerrymandering they squeezed out two extra seats.

2012 Florida Popular Vote for U.S. House–27 House Seats*1
Democratic candidates: 3,499,302, or 47.3% of the vote: earned 10 seats, or 37% of the seats
Republican candidates: 3,893,851, or 52.6% of the vote: earned 17 seats, or 63% of the seats

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*2

Critics correctly counter that, depending on the state and decade, both parties gerrymander. Every ten years—after each new census—whatever party dominates a statehouse draws the lines so as to create the reddest red or the bluest blue districts. After 2010, the Republicans were well situated to draw the lines that gave them the current majority in the House.

If both parties do it, why not put an end to this nefarious practice? I don’t want my party to gain the advantage based on how its leaders draw the lines, and I suspect most Republicans feel the same about their party. So, rather than have the party that won the most recent election undertake the decennial process of drawing districts, why not have a bipartisan commission or panel of retired judges do it? In California a Citizens Redistricting Commission now draws the lines for state government elections. The results have been far from perfect (there have been a lot of complaints), but most observers agree the new districts are more “purple” than “red” or “blue.” Wouldn’t ‘far from perfect’ be better than what we have now? If the party that loses the popular vote continues to dominate the “popular” Congressional chamber, will we not be—to borrow Yeats’ and Didion’s phrasing—slouching toward Bethlehem?

Sincerely,
Dr. Tristan Voltaire, Ph.D.

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August’s List, by Farinelli. Not so easy listening. Music videos published in the last two weeks. Alternative rock, Americana, cosmic, dance-pop, dream pop, electropunk, experimental, folk, indie, lo-fi, noise, post punk, nu-gaze, psyche pop, shoegaze, synthpop, trip hop, etc. Watch & listen

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ClioNursing Clio: Because the Personal is Historical. An open access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog project that ties historical scholarship to present-day issues related to gender and medicine. Read

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Make Jax Weird_______

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